I awoke today with a slightly new take on my current conundrum– “something hard to understand or explain” – a great word for the pervasive and multiple-multiplying experiences related to being survivors of extreme infant-child abuse!
My new take today includes a relevant term known as “emotional flooding.” A simple Google search of those two words brings up in response some intense and ‘conundrumish’ topics!
The truth is that nobody except perhaps the best of the developmental neuroscientists can truthfully find a handle on the continuing experience of the abuse most of the readers of this blog know intimately from their own lives. Yet even these doctors, not being survivors of such severe trauma themselves, cannot actually understand the very real experience of living in a body that was so changed during its early development in response to severe early trauma.
We are for the most part on our own in finding ways to identify what is going on within our body that can so ‘dis-equilibriate’ our senses of being a self in a body in the world.
These past few weeks I have been overdoing IT. IT = living AS IF I am OK – because I so WANT to be OK!
Suddenly I fell blindly into a sink hole –
Suddenly a different version of me appeared
Suddenly I lost my equilibrium
This is more than losing any hope of being in touch with a sense of inner peace at my core. This is an experience of someone else appearing upon the stage of my life-as-I-want-to-live-it – and this someone else is the person who holds billions of memories of what trauma is and what it has done to me – whether I like to be reminded or not.
Overwhelmed and overwrought
Any adequate mother (or substitute early caregiver) easily recognizes the signs in an infant that these two conditions are in motion
This adequate mother will respond to her infant as if the little one is in a state of emergency
This mother will do everything in her power to re-stabilize the infant – to calm it down by comforting it appropriately – by blocking all incoming stimulation (be it too much good or too much bad) – This mother will calm the infant down TO ITS CORE.
This is safe and secure attachment in action, in motion – as the caregiver performs the required role for the infant of resetting the entire body of the upset infant in its nervous systems which include the infant’s rapidly developing right limbic social-emotional brain.
Because the abuse that happened to me began when I was born (and because I am fortunate enough to know this!) – I understand that when I go awry in my body it is to these most basic, primitive and important central-control levels that I must look in order to repair whatever current-day disequilibrium has toppled my sense of being an ongoing-self-in-the-world. Toppling. Losing inner balance. Losing sight of, losing touch with, anyone ‘in here’ that has a rock-solid grasp of what in the world is even going ON HERE!
I picture a 3-D pyramid or a 2-D triangle. Safe and secure healthy early attachment interactions build a body-brain from the ground up that has a wide solid grounded base in reality (as it becomes built into the body-brain). Early neglect, abuse, trauma puts so much stress into a little one’s body that this base is never built right.
When ongoing interactions of increasing complexity happen in an early trauma survivor’s life the tendency for being overwhelmed results in this pyramid/triangle flipping over so that we are – in our body brain – trying to remain stable while attempting to maintain balance on the precarious tip point – hence – our repeated experiences of reaching a tipping point and losing our inner equilibrium along with our sense of being a central-stable-self-in-the-world.
I cycle through patterns of being relatively OK – and of being NOT OK.
It is my wish to be able to increasingly prevent the toppling – but it is also difficult to live anything like what I might like to think of as a ‘normal life’ when the amount of trauma I experienced during the first 18 years of my life so changed HOW I am in this body in this world.
If you Google search (recommended) ‘emotional flooding’ you will notice even from scanning the titles that appear on the result page that ‘emotional flooding’ is most often associated with the ACUTE stage of traumatic experiences.
Survivors of severe early infant-child abuse have a body-brain so built in the environment of acute trauma that we are able to know little else. ACUTE TRAUMA was ‘normal’ for us in our early malevolent environment.
Our body will remember this fact any time we take too big a step without being completely conscious of what we are doing and how we are experiencing each little tiny step we take along the way. I know this. I took a long stride and strolled through my experiences of the past few weeks acting AS IF there would be no repercussions.
Well, I am in the repercussion stage now – and restabilizing my entire self has to be my current mission. Fortunately, I didn’t stride too far off of my what-is-possible-for-Linda-to-accomplish during my activities of recent days. But I did overdo it.
Sometimes I have to overdo it – or it seems I would not have much of a life at all. I am severely hampered, confined, restrained in what I can take on in my life – and yes – it makes me frustrated and MAD to be so limited. But my limitations are very real whether I like it or not – and I am the only caregiver in my life who can do what it takes to get my centered calm self back again — with the love, support and understanding of those who care most about me!
This support, love and care also comes from readers of this blog who stop in with their comments. Thank you!
Over the course of my adult life I have fallen on my face, fallen on my butt, fallen to my knees many many times. I have had to work very hard, honestly, at remaining alive, at remaining hope-full, at remaining convinced that what I do in my life matters. I have much to be grateful for, obviously, and I also work hard at recognizing all the positives that I can.
But I can no longer deny or ignore the conditions in my body that are the very real and serious consequence of living the first 18 years of my life under conditions of extreme threat, trauma and harm.
That I DESERVE to experience peace and joy remains an elusive guess to me unless I apply great effort at remaining focused on giving myself permission to TRY to be fully human – a condition that was entirely denied to me throughout the very long hell of my infancy and childhood.
I do not like to whine. I do not like to complain. I like to get back up, dust myself off, heal as much as I can – and go on living as if…….
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